Libyan protesters torch Haftar-backed govt. headquarters in Benghazi
Iran Press TV
Sunday, 13 September 2020 6:05 PM
Libyan protesters have reportedly set fire to headquarters of the eastern administration backed by rebel forces under the command of renegade general Khalifa Haftar in the country's second city of Benghazi.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, an official from the interior ministry in the eastern government said a group of demonstrators attacked the cabinet building in the early hours of Sunday and set it ablaze before fleeing the scene.
Police and firefighters quickly arrived but the fire had destroyed the main entrance to the building, according to the official.
Reports also said protests erupted in the northeastern city of al-Marj, with police forces opening fire on demonstrators after they forced their way into the police station.
Protests in Benghazi began late Thursday in the wake of rising anger at regular power cuts, cash shortages and high fuel prices as Haftar imposed blockade against most of the country's oil facilities in January.
Libya – which sits atop the largest oil reserves in Africa – has been forced to halt its oil production as a result of the illegal blockade.
The violence-wracked country used to produce nearly 1.2 million barrels per day last year but that figure plunged to about 90,000 daily barrels since the rebel forces forced the halt to the operations at the eastern oilfields and ports. The blockade has cost the North African nation at least eight billion dollars.
Libya first plunged into chaos in 2011, when a popular uprising backed by a NATO intervention led to the ouster of long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Two rival seats of power have emerged in Libya since 2014, namely the internationally-recognized government run by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, and the parliament based in the eastern city of Tobruk, supported militarily by Haftar's rebels.
The Libyan rebels are supported by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, and Jordan. They launched an unsuccessful military offensive to seize the capital, Tripoli, and unseat the government in April 2019.
The Libyan military has undone many of the rebels' gains with crucial support from its own patron, Turkey.
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